Quarterly Update: October-December 2016

Resilience and the ‘Prize’


Key Account Management programmes rarely – if ever – run smoothly.

To successfully deliver substantial growth through Key Account Management requires investment and a steadfast commitment to engage in, and excel at, critical activities including customer intimacy, value management and customer focused innovation.

Companies start out with great expectations and intentions but find that when customer, market and internal complications hit they are tempted to ‘abandon ship’ – perhaps when the rewards are just over the horizon.

We recently caught up with the Strategic Account Management  Director of a FTSE 250 client who had just won significant business with a customer who had been targeted for two years.

When we asked him ‘what proved the biggest hurdle?’ he said ‘internal nervousness’.   After investing senior management time with the customer in two face to face meetings, without seeing immediate gains, he had been asked by senior colleagues to abandon efforts with the particular customer and focus elsewhere.

“But I could see we were making good progress – albeit more slowly that we’d hoped for – and I knew the size of the prize was large.   I think we might have switched away from the opportunity but for two things.   1. The upfront opportunity scoping we developed – we could see an attractive prize, and 2. the knowledge we weren’t alone in facing this hurdle, which gave me a sense of resilience.”

The supplier is now positioned for further growth with this customer and the senior group are all delighted.

Key Account Management can deliver significant upsides but success requires champions to prevail when hurdles arise, patience and organisational resilience to cope with bumps in the road.